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[Archived] Fulham 0 V 2 Blackburn Rovers


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As Rovers begin preparations for the trip to London for Saturday’s early kick off against Fulham, the club is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The media appear to be keen to milk the Yorke incident for all they can, the FA have charged Steven Reid for an elbow into Gronkjaer’s ribs … and meanwhile the club sits rock bottom of the Premiership table with a third of the season gone.

And all this came along before the bad taste in the mouth caused by the way Tony Parkes left the club the previous week had been given time to be washed away.

So it’s tempting to turn back the clock and bask in some memorable (and less memorable) occasions from the recent past when the two clubs have come head to head.

Cast your minds back to March 2000.

To be precise, Sunday 12th March. Rovers played Crewe at Ewood Park in one of the most bizarre games I have ever seen. Despite managing to threaten the Crewe goal on average once every 120 seconds, the vital statistics at the end read Rovers 0 – Crewe 1. 43 attempts, but no goals.

Something had to change, and 6 days later Rovers travelled to Craven Cottage with a new manager in charge. The Souness era began with a 2-2 draw, the goals – both equalisers – scored by David Dunn and a peach from Keith Gillespie.

A couple of quotes from the LET (20.03.00) to bring back those memories …

“And he [souness] remains positive about the future, especially after being given such a rousing welcome at Craven Cottage by almost 2,500 Rovers supporters.

The manager enjoyed his reception from a big travelling support at Craven Cottage: "Yes, I was very impressed by that and I would like to think they will create a good atmosphere for the home game against Birmingham."

“Souness also made it clear that Tony Parkes has a significant role to play as his assistant.

"When I came I felt it was important there was somebody here who understood the club," he said.

"Tony is very good at his job and the decision was mine. It wasn't a condition of the job to find him a place, I wanted him to stay."

The following season (2000-2001) would see Fulham and Rovers take the two automatic promotion spots from Division 1 back to the Premiership. In October at Craven Cottage, a rampant Fulham ran rings round Rovers and won the game 2-1 even though Matt Jansen had scored early on to give Rovers the lead.

The return fixture at Ewood on a Wednesday night in mid-April it was a clash of the top two teams, screened live on ITV Digital. Rovers were protecting an unbeaten home record stretching back 5 months, but Louis Saha and Sean Davis put an end to that, despite Matt Jansen’s 20th goal of the season. People may be shocked, but Souness had a ready made line for the press conference after the game ….

“Lady Luck wasn't with us and to lose the game in the manner we did was a real, real kick in the teeth”

Back in the big league in the 2001-02 season, the two sides didn’t meet until February. Rovers were two weeks away from a memorable visit to Cardiff, but the trip to the cottage was memorable for all the wrong reasons. Fulham took the points in a 2-0 win despite Rovers hitting the woodwork twice early on. It was cold, it was damp and it was dismal. Andy Cole gave one of the most pathetic performances I’ve ever seen from a professional footballer, and to cap it all Short was sent off and Tugay picked up the booking which would prevent him from playing in Cardiff. The Souness verdict was a new one though ….

“on another day, we would have got something out of this game," said Souness.”

The return fixture was the last game of the season and the contrast could not have been greater. Rovers had won the cup, Rovers were safe from relegation, the sun was out and with cheap tickets on offer 30,487 packed a joyous Ewood Park. Mark Hughes came off the bench with 15 minutes remaining for a rousing farewell, which no-one guessed at the time was merely an “au revoir”. Fulham gave one of the all time crap performances of any Premier League team ever.

A goal from Duff and a brace for Andy Cole which took him to 13 in 20 games had the manager purring after the game.

"I've been shouting Andy's cause all along because I don't believe there's a better striker in England at this present time than him," said the Rovers boss.

"Okay, Michael Owen gets lots of headlines and he's been playing regularly all season.

"But Andy's only started playing regularly since he joined us and I can't see what more he would have had to have done to get himself into that England squad.

Six months later and a lot had changed. Matt Jansen had suffered that terrible injury. Duffer had played his socks off in the Far East and Rovers had spent the rest of the summer fighting off interest from Liverpool and Man United. Dwight Yorke had arrived, and in this game he took a pass from Duff to score his first Blackburn goal at Ewood park. He caused the winner as well as his header forced Van der Sar into an excellent save but the ball hit Rufus Brevett and ended up in the goal.

Friedel was the real hero that day however, 13 days after a minor knee operation he took his place between the sticks to produce a stunning performance. LET :

“When Gordon Strachan recently remarked that Friedel 'must have got changed in a telephone box' following his stunning performance at Southampton it was meant to be a joke. But I'm starting to think there might be something in his Superman theory because only Kryptonite looks capable of stopping him right now.”

The next fixture was a Monday night game at Loftus Road in April last year. It attracted the lowest Premier League crowd of the entire season (14,017) but those who were at QPR’s borrowed ground that night saw the Hakan Sukur show. Sadly never to be repeated, but his two classy strikes that night will live long in the memory of the Rovers fans who were behind the goal in the School End. Duff and Dunn were also on the scoresheet in a 4-0 thrashing of the home team. And Souness just never lets you down with his fantastic range of pre-fabricated post match analysis –

"Our aim at the start of the season was to get enough points to stay in the Premier League and once we got those we then wanted to finish higher than we did last year," said the Rovers boss. … and "Vratty is a proper defender”

The Daily Telegraph match report summed up the game in one paragraph :

“Fulham are homeless, soon to be managerless and last night they were clueless as Hakan Sukur inspired Blackburn Rovers to a romp in west London. The "Bull of the Bosphorus" claimed two goals, his first for Blackburn, and with David Dunn converting a penalty and another goal from Damien Duff, the visitors ruined further Fulham's deteriorating season.”

Rovers next faced Fulham on 28th September last year, immediately after the midweek UEFA game away in Ankara. The three players who had scored the goals in April had all left the club, and how they were missed as Fulham left Ewood with all three points thanks to Louis Saha and Luis Boa Morte.

And so to the last meeting between these two teams, April’s rollercoaster epic at Loftus Road. Another memorable night in the School End and for the Sky viewers. At half time, nobody I spoke to in a shattered Rovers following could see anything other than a certain, looming relegation.

Cole had given us the lead on 21 minutes, latching on to the “pass of the season” from Tugay, but Collins John had struck twice to send us in at the break 2-1 behind. The writing was truly on the wall – the home defeat to Leeds two days before had seemed bad, but half time at Loftus Road was definitely worse – a real low point and that empty feeling of helplessness.

45 minutes later and this stupid game called football had caught us all out again. It remains one of the sweetest 45 minutes following the Rovers, as Douglas drew us level with a well taken volley, and Amoruso hammered in a free kick from 30 yards to put Rovers 3-2 up.

Luis Boa Morte levelled things up but a sweet Jonathan Stead goal brought a result which was a vital, glorious, memorable turning point in an otherwise unfortunate season.

So this weekend it’s back to Craven Cottage. Given the last two seasons at Loftus Road I can’t help wishing Fulham were still playing there (oh, and I live 15 mins walk away). But a new Putney End awaits, sadly minus the terraces and the scenic view over the River Thames.

Looking at the history of this fixture, it could go either way. Andy Cole will surely be keen to prove a point even though Souness has gone. At the same time, I have a feeling deep in my bones that Rovers are going to turn this sequence of draws into wins sooner rather than later.

Let’s hope that starts on Saturday, and that the early kick off means no-one is p!ssed enough to ignite a race row. I don’t generally do predictions, but I guess this week I have to. Fulham 0 Rovers 3 … COME ON YOU BLUES !!

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The narrow pich of Craven Cottage suits us well:

Fulham 2

Rovers 3

Great preview btw..

its not as narrow as Loftus Road was where Rovers do very well.

But i agree with you krislu, a 3-2 Rovers win

Fulham2-3 Rovers

Cole (22) Dickov (41)

Radzinski (58) Emerton (68)

. Reid (74)

Edited by greggyk
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two factors to influence my prediction: on the rare occasions that i get to see blackburn they tend to be mediocre... but they also tend to give me a birthday present of a scrappy win... with that in mind i'm going for a hard fought 1-0 to rovers. tho given our current form i think it could just as easily be 4-3 rovers. blink.gif

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wonderful preview! thanks for the very enjoyable read.

although we conceded 3 against brum, hope that sparky doesnt change the central defence. todd and nissa look our best bet for now, and they are actually pretty steady. we've got no alternatives for neill, although he is 1 yellow card away from a suspension. will be interesting to see who takes his place if neill gets the suspension soon.

midfield, hope that mgp gets his chance alongside fergie and thommo, who surely has done enough to warrant a starting berth. fergie though, i hope he stamps his authority right from the start. he does seem to drift in and out of the game. emo to eat up the right flank and hopefully steady the ship ahead of neill.

upfront, i'd go with matty and dickov still, with gally on the bench.

not gonna curse the team with a prediction, but i'll take any sort of winning scoreline. tinykit.gif

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Im unsure about Thommo starting - whilst he was excellent on Sunday, he looked knackered by the end. Id much rather he was brought on in the 60th minute (or maybe at half time) and give us a bit of umph in the second half against tired legs.

Aopart from that Id like to start the same team that finished against Brum.

And Id like MGP to make an appearance at some point.

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Many happy memories from this fixture - although last season sat with the Fulham players families (Mark Crossley's Dad is a nice bloke) and got some strong looks when Steadinho cracked that winner and I lost it. This year I'll be back down the Putney end so I can celebrate properly! biggrin.gif

3-2 Rovers. I think we have our scoring boots on now that Thommo is back and Fergie, Reid and Emerton are all playing with confidence. But Fulham have so much pace up front that we will concede a couple.

Should be fun (unlike Charlton and Chelsea)

I'll be the bloke trying to explain the offside rule to the three Sloaney Fulham-girls I'm bringing with me (we need all the support we can get!)

rover.gif

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We are playing alot better at the moment and showing some consistency-4 draws in a row. However we need a win desperately. Fulham have had an up and down season so far and hopefully we can take advantage of this. Just as long as we don't concede the first goal, I think that we can winn this won. Hughes has instilled alot of confidence in the players and they know that a win on Saturday could take us off the bottom of the table and kickstart the season.

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We still can't defend so there should be bags of goals and entertainment.

I am therefore going for a really boring 0-0 in a cold, wet London.

Come on Rovers, prove me wrong. Not really enough time for warm up beers before the game either!

Excellent preview though Tris.

Edited by Biddy
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